Aljamain Sterling
Funk Master

USA

Ready for bantamweight title shot
BantamweightUFC
June 6, 2020
Sterling defeated Cory Sandhagen via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:28 of Round 1 at UFC 250 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
It was the best performance of Sterling's career in the biggest fight of his life. In fact, there is a real argument to be made that the UFC should just scrap the Jose Aldo vs. Petr Yan bout they are planning for the vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship and instead go with Sterling vs. Yan. There's no sign the company will head in that direction, but Aljo is clearly next in line for the winner. His win over Sandhagen was a thing of beauty. Sterling was able to get position on his bigger opponent and drag him to the mat. He quickly took his back and finished Sandhagen off on his second rear-naked choke attempt. It doesn't get much better. Sterling is now 11-3 in the UFC. He has won five fights in a row against top-flight competition (Sandhagen, Pedro Munhoz, Cody Stamann, Jimmie Rivera, Brett Johns) since his fluky 67-second knockout loss to Marlon Moraes in December 2017. Sterling is clearly talented enough to hold UFC gold in the not-too-distant future. He'll also take home an extra $50,000 for his efforts as one of four Performance of the Night bonuses awarded Saturday evening.
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In line for title eliminator
BantamweightUFC
May 21, 2020
Sterling is now lined up to take on Cory Sandhagen in a bantamweight matchup at UFC 250 on June 6, Damon Martin of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
This fight was hinted at by Ariel Helwani of ESPN on Wednesday, and Sterling appears to have confirmed the news via his personal Twitter account Thursday. This has all the makings of a top contender bout, with the winner presumably going on to get a title shot. It's made even more interesting by Henry Cejudo's abrupt retirement following UFC 249 last month. Cejudo could always deviate from that plan, but even if he gets the contract he wants, it looks like there will be an opponent lined up and waiting. Both Sterling and Sandhagen have earned the opportunity, each compiling winning streaks of four-plus bouts. Sterling has the slight reach advantage, but Sandhagen is four inches taller. Both men offer elite striking differentials (significant strikes landed minus significant strikes absorbed), but Sterling has a slight edge when it comes to takedown volume and takedown defense.
Won't face Sandhagen in San Diego
BantamweightUFC
April 2, 2020
Sterling will no longer face Cory Sandhagen at UFC San Diego on May 16, as the California State Athletic Commission has cancelled all combat sports events until June due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marc Raimondi of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
With bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo tied up in a May 9 title defense against Jose Aldo (thought the future of that event remains in limbo), Sterling instead had accepted a top-contender matchup against one of the division's brightest prospects. That will no longer take place as anticipated, leaving the immediate future of the men's 135-pound division in question.
New fight in works
BantamweightUFC
March 23, 2020
Sterling (wrist) is eyeing a bout against Cory Sandhagen at UFC Fight Night in San Diego on May 16, Aaron Bronsteter of TSN.ca reports.
ANALYSIS
Clearly, the date of the fight could be in jeopardy due to the current coronaviris pandemic, but it is still on the schedule as of now. Sterling is riding a four-fight win streak and currently the second-ranked fighter in the bantamweight division. He has not fought since undergoing wrist surgery last September. His potential opponent, Sandhagen, is on a win-streak of his own, with five consecutive victories.
Undergoes wrist surgery
BantamweightUFC
September 24, 2019
Sterling had wrist surgery Tuesday, Alexander K. Lee of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Sterling was attempting to fight Frankie Edgar on Nov. 22 at UFC 244, but he couldn't get cleared for the bout. He said he's been dealing with a scapholunate ligament tear in his wrist for two years, and now he's on the road to recovery. It's unclear when he'll be ready to fight again.
Effectively uses reach
BantamweightUFC
June 8, 2019
Sterling defeated Pedro Munhoz via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) at UFC 238 on Saturday in Chicago.
ANALYSIS
This was one of the best performances of Sterling's career. He came into the UFC with solid kicks and limited hands. However, he has worked hard on his over striking game, and he was able to win this fight without scoring a single takedown. On paper Munhoz was the more technical striker, but Sterling was able to overcome that with his range and dynamic striking. He is clearly someone in the title picture in the bantamweight division.